July 21, 2018

S.D. Ireland legion team gears up for playoffs

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

As the American Legion baseball summer schedule rolls into the final half, the number of games dwindle down in which the S.D. Ireland team can make a serious playoff run.

“We almost have to win out,” coach Jim Neidlinger said Monday as his players took batting practice following a forfeit victory over Waterbury at the Champlain Valley Union High field. The league (Northern Division) mark for S.D. Ireland, which includes players from Williston, now stands at 4-6.

The Irelands were preparing for a five-game tournament in Saratoga and Glens Falls, N.Y., which opened Tuesday with two games followed by a singleton on Wednesday before another pair of games Thursday at noon and 3 p.m.

After off days Friday and Saturday, the Irelands return to league play at noon Sunday against Franklin County in St. Albans. The two teams meet again in Hinesburg at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

The OEC Kings from the Northeast Kingdom will be at the CVU field for a 5:30 p.m. contest Tuesday.

Hopes were high going into the annual trip to Glens Falls, where, as assistant coach Onnie Matthews pointed out, the team went 2-2-1 last year against tough competition.

“We are getting better,” Neidlinger said. “There are still some little things here and there but overall we are better.”

The forfeit win on Monday lifted the squad to an overall 7-11 mark.

Last weekend the Irelands were in a three-day tournament in Granville, N.Y., where they went 1-2, the victory a 6-2 triumph hurled by starter and winner Nicky Elderton with solid relief from Dan French.

“Nicky pitched well, just gave up a couple of homers,” Matthews said.

On Sunday, in the Granville finale, the Irelands lost to Post 31, 12-11 in 10 innings after pushing across two runs in the ninth to force the extra inning.

Big bopper of the day for the Irelands was outfielder Jared Badger with two doubles and a single that produced a trio of tallies. Drew Nick poled a double and single.

Prior to the Empire State trip last Thursday, the Irelands pasted Waterbury, 12-0 on the road behind Theron Fuller’s five-hit pitching.

The swatting muscles were provided by Curt Echo with a three-run homer and Ryan Machavern with a two-run clout, both blasts launched over the fence in right.

LEGION TEAM BOWS TWICE IN TOURNEY

The S.D. Ireland American Legion baseball team got nipped 5-4 by New York Post 168, and then took an 11-5 loss at the hands of the TriCity Eagles Tuesday in its opening games in the annual Coopers’ Cave Tournament at Saratoga-Glens Falls, N.Y.

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